When we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to beauty, craft, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, expression and emotion.

Guggenheim Modern Art Exhibition Returns to Charleston, S.C. after 80 Years

Vasily Kandinsky

Iconic exhibition revisits its original host with masterworks from the Guggenheim collection

CHARLESTON, S.C., August 8, 2016 – Charleston is home to many firsts, but it’s a little-known fact that the historic city was home to the first formal exhibition of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s modern art collection. The exhibition was presented at the Gibbes Museum of Art, the South’s oldest art museum building, in 1936 and again in 1938, 21 years before Guggenheim’s collection found a permanent home in today’s renowned museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

This fall, 80 years later, the Gibbes will present a special exhibition titled Realm of the Spirit: Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection and the Gibbes Museum of Art from October 22, 2016 to January 15, 2017. Organized by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York and featuring 35 works by celebrated modern artists including Marc Chagall, Vasily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso, Realm of the Spirit revisits the Guggenheim’s fascinating – and largely unknown – history with the Lowcountry.

“We are honored to share much of the art featured in the original exhibitions with visitors to the Gibbes today in Realm of the Spirit. Through both figurative and abstract works, this selection from the Guggenheim collection emphasizes the timeless founding vision of the museum and the belief that non-objective art conveys the spiritual joy of creation,” said Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

Guggenheim’s ties to the Lowcountry
After purchasing a home along the Charleston Battery and a property in nearby Yemassee in the 1920s, Solomon and Irene Guggenheim quickly became prominent figures in the Charleston community. Before becoming the first director of the Guggenheim Museum, art advisor Hilla Rebay curated the 1936 and 1938 exhibitions, bringing international attention to Charleston and record attendance levels for the Gibbes Museum of Art. Preserving the character of the exhibitions, Realm of the Spirit occupies the exact building of the original showing, and adopts their specified arrangement by dividing the works into “non-objective paintings” – abstract art that had no ties to the visible world – and “paintings with an object.”

“With Realm of the Spirit, the Guggenheim and the Gibbes revisit the important intersection of our institutional histories,” said Angela Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. “This exhibit is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and offers visitors an authentic viewing experience that wouldn’t be possible without the major restoration work that has taken place at the Gibbes.”

The Gibbes recently reopened to the public after a two-year, $14 million renovation to restore the 111-year-old building to its original 1905 layout and programming. In addition to the 35 paintings and works on paper from the Guggenheim founding collection, the exhibition will feature archival materials and historic photographs that document the significant history of the Gibbes-Guggenheim connection, as well as a fully illustrated exhibition catalog.

To purchase tickets to Realm of the Spirit or learn more about the Gibbes Museum of Art, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.

Editor’s Note: View images from the exhibition. For photos of the original 1936 exhibit, contact Hannah Nuccio.

About the Gibbes Museum of Art
Home to the Carolina Art Association, established in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art is recognized among the oldest arts organizations in the United States. Housing one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present, the museum’s mission is to enhance lives through art by engaging people of every background and experience with art and artists of enduring quality and by providing opportunities to learn, to discover, to enjoy, and to be inspired by the creative process.

Media Contact
Hannah Nuccio
Lou Hammond Group
[email protected]
(843) 410-5306

Image caption:
Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944)
Composition 8, July 1923
Komposition 8
Oil on canvas
55 1/8 x 79 1/8 inches (140 x 201 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP

Related Content